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The Kelp Dwellers

Surfacing

Review by Gary Hill

The music presented here is not a tight fit under progressive rock. I'd argue that the instrumental guitar centric sound fits there by itself, though. The fact that Djam Karet's Gayle Ellett is included here would add to that argument. The mastermind behind this project is a gentleman named Todd Montgomery. In addition to the cool music presented here, I have to mention the cover art. By Marlin Montgomery, I have to say that it's some of my favorite album cover art in a while. It reminds me a little of Roget Dean, but has its own identity and flavor. It's very fun, too. That kind of describes the music, really. It is a lot of fun and has its own identity and flavor.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 2. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Jellyfish Song
A cool rock and roll groove brings this number into being. As the guitar soloing comes over the top it gets a definite infusion of surf music. There are some cool twists and turns built into the piece that at times take it toward fusion and more full prog zones. There are some killer heavier moments here, too. This is a particularly hot composition that makes for a great opener.
Winsome Rollers
I like the climbing sort of riff that brings this into being. The cut grows out from there with a jam band meets prog and surf music concept. There is some killer, almost fusion, guitar work built into this one.
Undine’s Righteous Victory
This rocks out a bit harder than either of the first two songs. It's more decidedly progressive rock based, too. It definitely features some fusion leanings, as well.
Westward Mostly Sunny
This is one of the most intriguing pieces here. There is a section that has a real country down-home vibe. It makes me think of some of Steve Howe's solo stuff in some ways. Yet, there is also a crazed, fusion-based movement that runs counterpoint to that. The two things work together to create a track that is inventive, dynamic and classy. One part feels sunny (befitting the title) while the other seems to bring a sense of danger and excitement.
Tricking King Swordfish
I love some of the grooves and textures that emerge on this number. It also has some especially effective guitar soloing. In fact, this might be my favorite tune here. It seems to do a great job of merging a guitar prog and fusion aesthetic. It gets decidedly heavy at times.
Otter Finley’s
I'm definitely reminded of Steve Howe at times on this song, but not the Americana side of his sound, but more the prog rock end of his solo catalog. This has some interesting shifts and changes and some great guitar work. It's one of the more purely proggy pieces of the disc. It's also one of the highlights for me.
Watch Out for Water Dog
I dig the guitar sounds and playing on this. The cut has some soaring elements built into it. There intriguing changes. It has some particularly melodic sections.
Selkie Always Seeks
This feels a little playful somehow. It's proggy tendencies are strong, and there is some great guitar work here.
Night Ashore
This might have some of the meatiest guitar work of the whole disc. Given the competition that says a lot. The more rocking parts are countered with mellower, melodic movements. The whole tune oozes class and style. It gets kind of trippy at times, too.
 
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